This study addresses the ability of DNA fragments from various sources to mediate autonomous DNA replication in cultured Drosophila melanogaster cells. We created a series of plasmids containing genomic DNA fragments from the Ultrabithorax gene of Drosophila and test ed them for autonomous replication after transfection into Schneider line 2 cells. We found that all plasmids containing Drosophila DNA were able to replicate autonomously, as were random human and Escherichia coli genomic DNA fragments. Most of the plasmids were detectable 18 days after transfection in the absence of selection, suggesting that transfected DNA is maintained in Drosophila cells without rapid loss or degradation. The finding that all plasmids containing Drosophila, human or bacterial DNA replicate autonomously in Drosophila cells suggests that the signals that direct autonomous replication in Drosophila contain a low degree of sequence specificity. A two-dimensional gel analysis of initiation on one of the plasmids was consistent with many dispersed initiation sites. Low sequence specificity and dispersed initiation sites also characterize autonomous replication in human cells and Xenopus eggs and may be general properties of autonomous replication in animal cells.